Preserved XR7: 1991 Mercury Cougar

This 1991 Mercury Cougar XR7 may not be the most collectible car on the market, but it sure seems to make sense as a cheap entry-level classic that would be pretty easy to live with. Listed for sale as most recently belonging to an older owner, the XR7 is described as a rust-free driver that has just 86,670 “gentle” miles. The Cougar is powered by Ford’s venerable 5.0L V8 engine and comes with the upgraded “Ride Control” suspension that was standard on the XR7. Find it here on Hemmings for $9,995 or best offer.

To me, the Cougar was always a nicely designed car that looked good in both base model and XR7 trim, with a nod going to the latter for its tasty 16-inch wheels. These will never be mistaken for a low-volume supercar; in fact, they made a ton of them and most have already been spit out of the used car market at the lowest-tier corner lot dealer you can imagine. That’s why examples like this stand out, as they simply don’t exist as a well-loved hobby car – you’re either buying a total roach or an over-modified Super Coupe (if you can find one of those.)

That’s not to say mothballed Super Coupes don’t exist; they do. But I’d wager more of those have been loved and set aside as a second or third vehicle than your standard XR7. The only way this car could get any better is if it were fitted with the rarely-seen five-speed manual transmission instead of the commonly seen automatic transmission, such as this one. The leather buckets are in decent, but not great, shape; they clearly show the kind of wear and tear you’d expect for the miles. The original stereo system remains in place and A/C works.

Underneath, you can see clearly that this Cougar has not been driven in winter conditions despite residing in an area that does see snow (admittedly, Maryland doesn’t get as much as the Northeast). Still, it’s clear based on the underside and the paint condition that the Cougar has been driven fairly carefully without needless exposure to the elements. The seller notes the original spare tire remains unused and that while there are some dings and scratches, the Cougar will present nicely with proper detailing. Is it cheap enough to warrant buying as a hobby car?


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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I’ve always liked these XR7’s as an alternative to the Super Coupe. I think the formal roof line looks fine. I keep my eye out for these with a manual transmission; one turns up once in a while, but not often. This example would make a good cruiser without spending a bunch of money, and you won’t see another one very often.

    Thanks Jeff.

    Like 4
    • Jim

      Sold a black one with the 5 speed a few years ago in pretty good shape for $500 I was always sorry I let it go so cheap.

  2. Ralph

    I don’t think the manual transmission was available with the 5.0 V8, only with the supercharged 3.8 V6.

    Like 8
  3. Superdessucke

    What’s up with that window sticker? They didn’t even have smartphones in 1991!

    Like 2
  4. JimmyJ

    10k for a beat up old cougar?hard pass!

    Like 6
  5. grant

    I guess I live in a different world. 10k for a ho hum Cougar from the 90’s is cheap? I suppose it’s relative, for a preserved Saleem Mustang it would be cheap, for this; no.

    Like 2
  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I had a 91 T-Bird and have a 94 currently. They are a nice driving cars though my 91 had the V6, they are kissing cousins of the Cougars. The V6 is a bear to work on unless you have a 10 yr old handy or small hands trying to get to some of the parts like the back spark plugs. This is the type car if you want something to take a trip in, they do qualify and they handle curvy roads just fine. You’ll be hard pressed to find another in this nice a condition, rust eats up the body starting at the rocker panels from the ones I’ve seen. I happen to like the notch back roof line of the Mercury over the T-Bird as they should be easier to parallel park.

    Like 1
  7. Stevieg Member

    Back in the 1990’s, my Dad had a 1990 Thunderbird & my stepmother had a 1990 Cougar. Both had the V-6, both blew headgaskets, both, after the head gaskets were fixed, developed rod knocks. Both ended up in a junkyard.
    This one is obviously the 8 cylinder version, even though I don’t see it stated anywhere. It has dual exhaust, which was an 8 cylinder thing, so it won’t have the issues I described as the issues my family had.
    These cars, with this engine, are excellent touring cars. They ride smooth, handle very well, are just comfy over the road. I personally prefer the formal look for the Cougar over the sporty look of the ‘bird, but that is just a preference, and subjective.
    This is a nice car, but way over priced. This is, in my opinion, a $3,000-$4,000 car at best. I hope whoever buys it loves it. They will be married to it.

    Like 4
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      I have to agree with you, stevieg; this Cougar is overpriced. It’s a fairly nice car but at no more than $4k, it’s paid for. These Cougars and the similar T-Birds were very popular cars in the ’90s, Ford sold a lot of them so there are quite a few of them still around. For $10,000, I could probably find a pristine, low-mileage Cougar. This XR7 is way overpriced but the seller will find that out soon enough.

      Like 1
    • Gransedan

      I heartily agree that the car is seriously overpriced. This generation of Cougar and T-bird are certainly stylish, well built, have excellent driver ergonomics and exhibit competent handling. I own a ’96 Cougar with the 3.8 litre V-6 that I’ve had for a year a half and enjoy immensely. It’s extremely comfortable, relatively good on gas, runs beautifully, and absolutely everything works, even the cassette player despite now having over 144,000 miles. I’ve not had a moment of buyers remorse. After reading Stevieg’s experience with the V-6 however, I quake in my boots a little.

      • Stevieg Member

        Gransedan, by now it either happened already & they rebuilt the whole thing, usually using upgraded parts, or it is not going to happen. My experience has been that it would have happened right around 90,000 miles or so. Don’t sweat it, enjoy it. They really are nice cars.

        Like 1
    • Jeremy

      Stevieg it does in fact state in the first paragraph of the article that it is a V8,the preferred (by me at least) 5.0 instead of the later 4.6 modular engine

      • Stevieg Member

        I know. I never said it’s a 6 cylinder, I was just saying these are nice cars, but be careful if looking at a 6 cylinder one.
        This is a nice car. Overpriced, but nice. The V-8 makes it even better.

  8. Miguel

    I have been looking at a lot of these cars where I am. The nicest one are around $3000 USD.

    If it has a stick shift in it, the price goes up a little bit.

    I did find this one in Mexico which is a V6, but with a factory stick.

    I don’t think they made a stick shift car in the US other than a few S/C cars.

    Like 3
  9. Miguel

    Here is the stick.

    Like 2
    • Miguel

      I think the guy was asking only $2000 USD for this one and it was super clean.

      Like 3
  10. Sean Farnum

    Pretty cool, this is a pretty rare car. This site doesn’t have all of the info and I can’t find my notes for it:
    Of the 63k produced, roughly 10k had the 5.0 V8 and only around 3,500 were set up in the XR7 package. Who knows how many are left with the specific problems they had, but I have one sitting in my driveway.

  11. Rod Warnick

    The rare number and quality of the condition is why it is priced as it was. Did have it reviewed by some collectors at one point. If there were indeed only 3500 made with the V8 and XR7 package, this we would believe would make it very highly collectible.

  12. thomas stahly

    i had a 91 XR& that I ordered and after 23 years, DONATED it. The 89 and 90, which had the Super-Coupe engine, could be had with a stick, but the 91/92 5.0 could only be with an auto. In fact, when i ordered mine, the dealer had a 90 stick on the floor that he could not get rid of. The engine bay was a bear to work in – the thing had 2 oil pan drain plugs, replacing a power steering hose took about 5 hours, and parts, such as the anti-lock brake pressure switch were harder and harder to find. i did replace the switch once, do have the socket, also the wiring diagram of how to bypass that switch and pump up the brakes – Tom

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